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Holding on to lateral partner hires

Holding on to lateral partner hires

Australian firms are faring better than those in the UK when it comes to the retention of laterally appointed partners. Briana Everett reports.The London legal market is suffering from a…

Australian firms are faring better than those in the UK when it comes to the retention of laterally appointed partners. Briana Everett reports.

The London legal market is suffering from a significant degree of attrition for lateral partner hires, according to new research by Motive Legal Consulting.

The research, which examined 1,944 partner moves within a five-year period (from 2005 to 2010), has revealed that London partners are leaving firms just a few years after joining. The study found that approximately one-third of partners left the firm they joined after just three years. After five years at a firm, the attrition rate jumped to 44 per cent.

The research also found that US firms were remarkably less successful in hiring partners than UK firms. About 45 per cent of partners hired by US firms had moved on within three years (between 2007 and 2010), compared with the attrition rate of 30 per cent for UK firms in the same period.

"We have not witnessed a similar trend regarding lateral partner retention in Australia. Here, most of the partners are being hired laterally by the mid-tiers, as many of the top-tier firms have openly and deliberately resisted expanding partner numbers over the past few years," says director of Burgess Paluch Legal Recruitment, Doron Paluch.

"Where there is attrition, we find that it has mostly been due to partners not delivering on what they have promised or expected. On occasion a partner will expect a substantial [client] following and be hired and remunerated on that expectation. If over time it becomes clear that the partner has overestimated, the new employer may decide to cut its losses."

Paluch also notes that mid-tier firms will usually give a new partner every chance to deliver given the substantial investment involved in recruiting a partner, from both a financial and public relations perspective.

"Generally, firms in Australia do a good job of integrating new partners," he says. "Partners themselves need to start at a new firm with the right approach ... We always encourage the partners we assist to be very strategic when considering their options."

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